Virtual Reality is very exciting and it is very fun to play VR games on the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, whichever you prefer. VR has opened a whole new world with all its possibilities not just in entertainment or gaming, but in other fields as well like medicine, tourism and education. VR technology is truly amazing and useful, but it comes with its own caveats. First, it can induce motion sickness, do read our article on VR sickness. Second, it’s not suitable for children, due to the motion sickness. Because of this, children are missing out on the whole VR gaming experience. This is a very debated topic and here we will discuss: Is virtual reality safe for kids or is it too dangerous?
Caution for Children using VR Headsets
Almost all VR headset manufacturers state that recommended age of usage of their VR headsets is 13 years and up. Oculus and Samsung are saying only to be used by 13 years and up. HTC is warning kids not to use the Vive headset. But that doesn’t mean “don’t let them use the VR headsets”. Do let them play, only under supervision and for small periods of time.
So why parents should be careful about their children playing VR games? The main reason is somewhat similar to “don’t sit too close and don’t watch TV for too long” thing we say to our children. Because children’s eyes are developing and they should not be strained for long periods of time. Second reason is motion sickness. Because of motion sickness, children can get sick very easily and hurt themselves by falling or hitting something in the real environment.
Positive Aspects of VR for Kids
Everything has either good aspect or bad aspects. As we grow older we all learn these aspects about everything in various contexts. Similarly, where VR is somewhat not recommended for children, in some cases it can be proven very useful. Here are some positive aspects of VR for kids:
- Doctors can make eye tests in VR and conduct them through VR headsets to detect eyesight problems like lazy eye or problems in depth perception in kids. Of course this needs specific sort of tests and VR headsets.
- If not doctors, then VR headset manufacturers themselves can make eye tests to evaluate if the headset is safe for usage or not and recommend consultation from an eye specialist.
- Other than the medical field, VR is great for kids’ learning. Google Cardboard VR is used in many schools where field trips cannot be arranged. Google Cardboard is good for a looking at a tourist site and then listening to the teacher in the classroom.
While VR headset makers recommend an age of usage, there has not been any case, incident or accident involving VR and kids leading to the conclusion that VR is dangerous for kids. The main reason for that is, VR is a new thing and not many people own VR headsets. Even those who own them are middle aged people who don’t have children. Also, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that VR is unsafe for kids.
In conclusion of the argument “Is Virtual Reality Safe for Kids or Is It Too Dangerous?”, we can say that it is safe for kids to use and play on VR headsets only for a short amount of time, in the supervision of parents. Because kids’ eyes are developing in the ages before 13 or 14 and it is not right to strain them for a long time by allowing them to play on VR headsets. Sure, so let them play but teach them about why they shouldn’t play VR games for long periods of time.